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April 11, 2024

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Spring Housing Guide

Winning restores BG-UT rivalry

It is a story about rejuvenation, not redemption and both the Bowling Green State Falcons and the Toledo Rockets will tell you that their solitary focus is not on the losing seasons they both suffered through a year ago.

When BG and UT bring a combined 17-4 record into tonight’s Mid-American Conference opener at Anderson Arena, the focus will be on showing how far they have come and where they intend to go.

“This is a big match for us,” Rockets head coach Kent Miller said. “We have been playing really well this season and I think we developed a lot of chemistry with everyone coming back as well as the addition of our freshmen, so everyone knows this is a better team than last season.”

The Falcons’ first-year assistant coach Mark Hardaway shares the same sentiments as his counterpart.

“This is a much better team than last year,” Hardaway said. “It’s a young team, but I think we’re getting better with each match and this will be good test for us opening with an undefeated Toledo team.”

Indeed, UT comes into the two schools 54th meeting – the Falcons lead the overall series 42-11 – boasting a 10-0 record after finishing the 2003 campaign 10-22 and 5-11 in the MAC.

But the Rockets’ unblemished mark had BG displaying a sense of giddiness and confidence immediately following Monday’s practice.

“I think last weekend’s games really prepared us for this match,” redshirt freshman Corrie Mills. “We’re excited that Toledo is undefeated because it shows that they’re a good team, but we’re ready to give them their first loss.”

The Falcons (7-4) have won six out of the last seven games with a steady dosage of balance and depth which was the missing link during last seasons 4-12 MAC record and 12-19 overall mark, according to head coach Denise Van De Walle.

Six players are averaging at least two kills per game, lead by senior Taylor Twite’s 3.37.

“We’ve had some players step up big for us and it has really made us a stronger team,” Hardaway said. “We still have to keep getting better, but the team is starting to see how good they can be.”

The Rockets, who have only lost five games out of 35 played, are led by senior Rachel Mohler’s 3.91 kills per game which is fifth in the MAC.

Mohler also leads the conference with a .436 hitting percentage and is one of three players averaging at least three kills per game for UT.

She said the team remembers the two losses suffered at the hands of BG last season.

“I went to high school with someone that plays for BG, Chrissy Gothke and the rivalry is always intense,” she said. “It’s just like the BG-UT football rivalry and we don’t take it any lighter. I really want to beat BG my senior year.”

UT’s freshman Emi Holsclaw, who was named MAC Player Of The Week, said she knew about the rivalry before arriving on campus.

“I saw a UT-BG game during my visit last year and it was pretty intense,” she said. “I’m excited to finally play in this game and everyone has been very intense this week, so we know it’s a big game.”

Freshman Maggie Karges said the Falcons are excited about the challenge.

“I think it’s going to be good starting conference play with a big rivalry, because it’s a good measuring stick for us,” she said. “I think we’ll be ready to compete.”

Hardaway may be getting his first taste of the rivalry since 1991 and 92 when he served as an assistant and BG all four meetings – two each season – but he said the intensity level will still be there.

“I don’t think much has changed since then,” Hardaway. “Both teams will come out an compete and try and get the win. So it should be an exciting game and a chance to show far we both have come.”

The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

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